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The Longest Day
The Longest Day (1962)
  • Director:
    Ken Annakin,Andrew Marton
  • Category:
  • Writer:
    Cornelius Ryan,Cornelius Ryan
  • Cast:
    John Wayne,Robert Ryan,Richard Burton
  • Time:
    2h 58min
  • Budget:
  • Year:
Tells the story of the D-Day invasion of Normandy in WWII. There are dozens of characters, some seen only briefly, who together weave the story of five separate invasion points that made up the operation.
Cast overview, first billed only:
Eddie Albert Eddie Albert - Col. Thompson
Paul Anka Paul Anka - U.S. Army Ranger
Arletty Arletty - Madame Barrault
Jean-Louis Barrault Jean-Louis Barrault - Father Louis Roulland
Richard Beymer Richard Beymer - Pvt. Dutch Schultz
Hans Christian Blech Hans Christian Blech - Maj. Werner Pluskat
Bourvil Bourvil - Mayor of Colleville
Richard Burton Richard Burton - Flying Officer David Campbell
Wolfgang Büttner Wolfgang Büttner - Maj. Gen. Dr. Hans Speidel
Red Buttons Red Buttons - Pvt. John Steele
Pauline Carton Pauline Carton - Maid
Sean Connery Sean Connery - Pvt. Flanagan
Ray Danton Ray Danton - Capt. Frank
Irina Demick Irina Demick - Janine Boitard (as Irina Demich)
Fred Dur Fred Dur - U.S. Army Ranger Major

The Longest Day (1962)

Lt. Colonel Benjamin Vandervoort was 27 years old on D-Day. He was very disappointed to find that he was being played in the film by John Wayne, given that he was ten years younger than the 54-year-old Wayne when the movie was made.

Dwight D. Eisenhower walked out on the film after only a few minutes, frustrated by the inaccuracies.

While clearing a section of the Normandy beach near Ponte du Hoc, the film's crew unearthed a tank that had been buried in the sand since the original invasion. Mechanics cleaned it off, fixed it up and it was used in the film as part of the British tank regiment.

Henry Grace was not an actor when being cast as Dwight D. Eisenhower, but his remarkable resemblance to Eisenhower got him the role.

An estimated 23,000 troops were supplied by the U.S., Britain, and France for the filming. (Germans only appeared as officers in speaking roles.) The French contributed 1,000 commandos despite their involvement in the Algerian War at the time.

In Italy for the filming of Cleopatra (1963), Roddy McDowall became so frustrated with the numerous delays during its production, he begged Darryl F. Zanuck for a part in this picture just so he could do some work. He ended up with a small role as an American soldier. Richard Burton, who was also filming "Cleopatra", took the opportunity caused by the long delays to take a cameo role of an RAF pilot.

During the filming of the landings at Omaha Beach, the American soldiers appearing as extras didn't want to jump off the landing craft into the water because they thought it would be too cold. Robert Mitchum, who played Gen. Norm Cota, was so disgusted with them that he jumped in first, at which point the soldiers had no choice but to follow his example.

As a 22-year-old private, Joseph Lowe landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day with the Second Ranger Battalion and scaled the cliffs at Point-Du-Hoc. He scaled those 100-foot cliffs all over again, for the cameras, some 17 years later.

One of producer Darryl F. Zanuck's big worries was that, as filming of the actual invasion drew near, he couldn't find any working German Messerschmitts, which strafed the beach, or British Spitfires, which chased them away. He finally found two Messerschmitt Me-108 trainers that were being used by the Spanish Air Force, and two Spitfires that were still on active duty with the Belgian Air Force, and rented all four of them for the invasion scenes.

One of the very first World War II films made by an American studio in which the members of each country spoke nearly all their dialogue in the language of that country: the Germans spoke German, the French spoke French, and the Americans and the British spoke English. There were subtitles on the bottom of the screen to translate the various languages. There were two versions of this movie, one where all the actors spoke English and the other (the better known one) where the French and German actors spoke their respective languages.

In his memoirs Christopher Lee recalls being rejected for a role in the movie because he didn't look like a military man (Lee volunteered to fight in the Winter War of 1939 before serving in the RAF, RAF Intelligence, the Special Operations Executive (SOE)- precursor to MI6, and the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) - precursor to the SAS during World War II).

Just before shooting began in Corsica, Darryl F. Zanuck was approached by a man stating he represented the beach owners. He insisted on a 15,000 dollar payment, or else they would drive modern cars along the beach. Zanuck paid the money, but it was later discovered to be a scam as there were no private beaches in Corsica. Zanuck eventually won damages after an eight-year lawsuit.

Sean Connery asked that his scenes be filmed quickly so he could get to Jamaica in time to star in James Bond 007 jagt Dr. No (1962).

Curd Jürgens played General Blumentritt. In real life, Jürgens had been imprisoned by the Nazis.

Kenneth More, playing Captain Colin Maud, carried the shillelagh Maud had used in the actual invasion, which had been loaned to him by Maud.

The piper who played the bagpipes as Lord Lovat's commandos stormed ashore is played by the late Pipe Major Leslie de Laspee, who was at the time Pipe Major of the London Scottish Pipe Band, and personal piper to HM the Queen Mother. The actual man who did this stirring deed on D-Day is Bill Millin. He recently donated that very set of pipes to the national war memorial in Edinburgh Castle.

Former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was considered for the role of himself in the film, and he indicated his willingness. However, it was decided that makeup artists couldn't make him appear young enough to play his World War II self.

"Rupert" was not the first dummy paratrooper used in the war. The Luftwaffe dropped dummies along with real troops all over Holland and parts of Belgium in the opening of the Battle for France.

Contrary to what is shown in this movie many of the German soldiers posted to Normandy at the time of the landings were young boys from the Hitler Youth and old men from reserve regiments as the main regiments had been moved due to the disinformation fed to German high command by the allies. Many veterans would report that the faces of the teenage boys they had to kill haunted them into old age.

According to several German veterans, Major Werner Pluskat was not at his command bunker in Omaha Beach when the first wave of the invasion forces landed, as depicted in this film. He was in a bordello in Caen.

Richard Todd, who actually took part in the action at the bridge at Benouville (later renamed Pegasus Bridge), was offered the chance to play himself but joked, "I don't think at this stage of my acting career I could accept a part 'that' small." He played the commander of the actual bridge assault itself, Maj. John Howard, instead.

To create a more sympathetic stance to each of the different parties, Darryl F. Zanuck had Englishman Ken Annakin direct the British segments, the American parts were handled by American action specialist Andrew Marton and German Bernhard Wicki took care of the scenes with the German army officers.

The Germans were deliberately not portrayed in stereotypical style. The words "Sieg Heil", for instance, are never said, although they can be seen written on a bunker wall in Ouistreham.

20th Century Fox was taking a real gamble making this film. At ten million dollars, it was a hugely daring venture, but even more risky was Cleopatra (1963), which was being filmed concurrently. This was to set Fox back the then unprecedented sum of forty million dollars. Although "Cleopatra" did well at the box office, it was simply too expensive to recoup its costs and nearly bankrupted the studio. Fortunately, this film turned out to be one of Fox's biggest hits and helped offset the financial damage caused by the Egyptian epic.

As part of John Wayne's contract, in addition to his high fee, he insisted on getting separate billing. The usual practice in film credits for this type of situation is to start off with "Starring John Wayne and *the other actors*; however, the credits begin with "starring *the other actors*... and John Wayne". Wayne's name appears last on the credits, while still meeting the separate billing clause of his contract.

Although he changed the cap-badge to that of Major Howard's regiment, the beret that Richard Todd (who plays Howard) wears in this film, is the one that he actually wore on D-Day.

Many of the military consultants and advisers, drawn from both sides, were actual participants on D-Day itself.

With a ten million dollar budget, this was the most expensive black-and-white film ever made until Schindlers Liste (1993).

Only six percent of the paratroopers depicted actually achieved their goal, sixty percent of the men and equipment parachuted in on D-Day were lost.

John Wayne, who was nearly 55 at the time of filming, was widely felt to be too old and too heavy to play a paratrooper. The part was originally offered to 38-year-old Charlton Heston.

Adolf Hitler doesn't make an appearance in the film. In reality, he slept through the start of the D-Day landings, having taken a sleeping pill.

John Robinson, who plays Admiral Ramsay, actually took part in the D-Day landings.

No gliders of the sort used in the invasion were available, so Darryl F. Zanuck commissioned new duplicates from the same company that built the originals.

When cost overruns on Cleopatra (1963) threatened to force 20th Century Fox to shut down production of this film, Darryl F. Zanuck flew to New York to save his project. After an impassioned speech to Fox's board, he regained control of the company he founded, ultimately finishing this picture and getting the production of "Cleopatra" under control.

As would be done later in Patton - Rebell in Uniform (1970), the Twentieth Century Fox logo is never shown.

The theme song to the movie, by Paul Anka, was used as the regimental march of the Canadian Airborne Regiment (1968-95)

In addition to Sean Connery, who made his debut as James Bond the same year this film was shot, two other actors in the film were Gert Fröbe and Curd Jürgens, two future Bond villains.

Richard Burton said he felt that both he and Donald Houston were too old to play RAF pilots. During his national service in the RAF he never saw a pilot older than 30.

When the film was released there were complaints over the casting, as many of the actors were too old for their characters.

To give an idea of the scale of this film, producer Darryl F. Zanuck effectively commanded more "troops" than any of the generals during the actual campaign.

Eddie Albert, who played Colonel Thompson, was a World War II veteran, but he served in the Pacific, not in Europe.

During shooting in Ste. Mère-Eglise, traffic was stopped, stores were closed and the power was shut down in order not to endanger the paratroopers who were unused to night drops in populated areas. Still, the lights and staged fire proved too difficult to work around, and only one or two jumpers managed to land in the square - with several suffering minor injuries. One of the initial jumpers broke both legs in landing. Ultimately, plans to use authentic jumps were abandoned, opting instead for rigged jumps from high cranes.

It only took four days to shoot John Wayne's cameo, although it was one of the more lengthy of all the cameos in the film.

Darryl F. Zanuck and Cornelius Ryan collaborated on the screenplay, even though they hated each other almost from the first time they met. It was up to producer Elmo Williams to mediate between the two and keep the peace.

The fleet scenes were filmed using 22 ships of the U.S. Sixth Fleet during maneuvers off Corsica between June 21-30, 1961. The cameras had to avoid shooting the area where the fleet's aircraft carrier was positioned, as there were no carriers in the invasion.

Due to the massive cost overruns on the film Cleopatra (1963) (which was filming concurrently), Darryl F. Zanuck had to agree to a fixed filming budget. After he had spent the budgeted amount, he started using his own money to pay for the production.

The production had 36 real landing craft and two real German planes at its disposal.

The part of the British priest was first offered to Dirk Bogarde, who turned it down.

The French Resistance woman shown at the start of the film is played by Irina Demick, who was Darryl F. Zanuck's girlfriend at the time.

Throughout the film a drum can occasionally be heard in the background. It hits three high notes and fourth that is lower as in "bim, bim, bim, bum". These represent the three dots and a dash of the Morse code "V", as in "V for Victory".

The role of Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Vandervoort was sought by Charlton Heston, but John Wayne decided to take the part at the last minute, and Heston was out.

Richard Todd (playing Major John Howard, Officer Commanding D Company of The 2nd Battalion The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, Air Landing Brigade, 6th Airborne Division) was himself in Normandy on D-Day, and participated as Capt. Todd of the 7th Parachute Battalion, 5th Parachute Brigade, British 6th Airborne Division. His battalion actually went into action as reinforcements, via a parachute jump (after the gliders had landed and completed the initial coup de main assault). Captain Richard 'Sweeney' Todd was moved from the plane he was originally scheduled to jump from, to another. The original plane was shot down, killing everyone on board.

Producer Darryl F. Zanuck paid the original author Cornelius Ryan 175,000 dollars for the screen rights to his book.

Several sources credit Christopher Lee as being in this project, but Lee denied working on the film.

There was some controversy over the casting. At 54, John Wayne was 27 years older than Colonel Benjamin Vandervoort had been at the time. At 52, Robert Ryan was 15 years older than General James M. Gavin had been.

Red Buttons was considered too old to play a paratrooper.

Donald Houston, who has one scene as an RAF pilot, actually was in the RAF during World War II.

The real Theodore Roosevelt Jr. died of a heart attack in France just a few weeks after the Normandy invasion.

The Spitfire planes needed to be fitted with new Rolls-Royce engines before being usable.

The character who calls the homing pigeons on Juno beach "Traitors" when they appear to fly east towards Germany is Canadian journalist Charles Lynch, who landed with the Canadians and covered the landings for Reuters.

One of the uncredited writers on the film was James Jones, author of "From Here to Eternity".

When leading the assault at Pegasus Bridge, Richard Todd (Maj. Howard) cries, "Up the Ox and Bucks." He and his men belonged to the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. This regiment was formed in 1881 by the merger of the 43rd and 52nd Regiments of Foot, first raised in 1741 and 1755 respectively.

As there was a naturist resort two miles inland from the Corsican beach, it was necessary to post signs warning the naturists not to approach the water during filming.

Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and his son Manfred Rommel are played by real life father and son Werner Hinz and Michael Hinz respectively.

Four Spitfires were used in the strafing sequence. They were all ex-Belgian target tugs and all were MK9s. The serial numbers were MH415, MK297, MK923 and MH434 and all are, as of this writing, still extant. The Spitfires were assembled and co-ordinated by former Free French Spitfire pilot Pierre Laureys, who flew with 340 Squadron, a Free French unit in the RAF. The four Spitfires were, of course, repainted in 340 Squadron markings. Spitfire MK923 was owned by Oscar-winning actor Cliff Robertson from 1963-98.

Red Buttons was cast in the film after he ran into Darryl F. Zanuck in a Paris café.

John Wayne (a very conservative Republican) and Robert Ryan (a very liberal Democrat) had managed to put their political differences aside when they made Stählerne Schwingen (1951), but they did not get along at all while making this film.

Alec Guinness was sought for a cameo.

Despite the Cornelius Ryan connection, the only stars to appear in both this film and Die Brücke von Arnheim (1977) are Sean Connery and Wolfgang Preiss.

Adolf Hitler had invaded France in May 1940 to force an end to World War II and the Anglo-French economic blockade. France and the British Commonwealth and Empire had declared war on Germany in September 1939 following the invasion of western Poland, although they did not respond to the Soviet Union's invasion of eastern Poland on 17 September.

Germany was fighting alone in Europe after Italy had switched sides in September 1943.

The Messerschmitts used to portray Luftwaffe fighters were not Bf-109s, but were actually Bf-108 Taifuns, a four-seat cabin monoplane design with a wider fuselage.

Alongside the three credited directors, Gerd Oswald directed the parachute drop scene and Darryl F. Zanuck himself did some pick-ups.

Darryl F. Zanuck was quoted in an interview as saying that he didn't think much of actors forming their own production companies, citing Alamo (1960), produced by John Wayne, as a failure of such ventures. Wayne found out about this interview before being approached by Zanuck, and refused to appear in the film unless he was paid 250,000 dollars for his role (when the other famous actors were being paid 25,000 dollars). Wayne got his requested salary.

Many of the beach scenes were filmed in Corsica.

A colorized version of this film, in pan/scan 4:3 ratio, was released on VHS in 1994, the 50th anniversary of the invasion, but met with almost total resistance by serious film enthusiasts who preferred to see it in B&W and in its correct, original wide screen ratio.

The scene of the French commando assault in Ouistreham was filmed in the nearby town of Port-en-Bessin. A building seen in the background of the long tracking shot is painted with the words "Bazar de Ouistreham". A local resident has indicated that this sign originally said "Bazar de Port-en-Bessin", but the town name was painted over to say "Ouistreham" for filming, then restored to say "Port-en-Bessin" after filming. As of 2013 the paint of the lettering on the building is still visible but has faded on the town name portion so that both the "Port-en-Bessin" and "Ouistreham" lettering can now be seen.

The casting of John Wayne as a paratrooper in his mid-twenties was widely regarded as a mistake.

At D-Day the Germans had only 319 operational aircraft left to face the Allied armada of over 9,000 planes.

The film was made in black and white to allow archive footage to be incorporated, to give the movie a documentary feel, and because it was felt some of the stars would appear younger.

John Wayne's separate billing on the end credits was controversial in view of his non-participation during World War II.

Film debut of Richard Dawson.

Despite being in two scenes, Gert Fröbe (Sergeant Kaffekanne) never actually says a word.

Even if Adolf Hitler had released the Panzers that were being held in reserve it is unlikely they could have made any difference without control of the skies, as the failure of the Ardennes Offensive later demonstrated.

Mel Ferrer was originally signed to play the role of General James M. Gavin but withdrew from the role due to a scheduling conflict.

In 1963 the civil rights organization the NAACP accused Hollywood studios of racial discrimination. Using this film as an example, it cited the fact that despite there being some 1,700 black soldiers who took part in the actual landings, the film featured just a single black actor. He's an extra, and he can be seen on a landing craft (around 1 hr 48 mins) in the film, right in the middle of the frame.

Curd Jürgens (General Günther Blumentritt) and Wolfgang Preiss (Major General Max Pemsel) would both later appear in Die zum Teufel gehen (1969), which likewise depicted the D-Day landings.

Wolfgang Preiss (Major General Max Pemsel) would later play Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in Im Morgengrauen brach die Hölle los (1971) and Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt in Die Brücke von Arnheim (1977).

During the scene, in which Brigadier General Norman Cota (Robert Mitchum) is complaining to Colonel Thomson (Eddie Albert) about the weather, and the number of men being cooped up, Thomson turns to the adjutant and orders him to turn down the radio. The song playing on the radio at that moment is an instrumental of the 1943 Cole Porter tune, "Don't Fence Me In".

In researching his contribution to the script, Romain Gary uncovered one of Cornelius Ryan's mistakes: the casino at Ouistreham had not existed on June 6, 1944. Since the casino set had already been built, however, the scene taking place there was filmed anyway.

Although American Film Institute Catalog of feature films, 1961-1970, identifies 'Dewey Martin (I)' as 'Private Wilder,' and claims his part was cut from the final release print, he does indeed appear with Roddy McDowall on the beach, and his rank is that of a Sergeant (insignia on his helmet) and is also so addressed McDowall.

At one point the camera zooms in on Crecy on the map. Crecy was where the English recorded one of their greatest victories ever, against the French.

General James M. Gavin, played by Robert Ryan, was actually born James Ryan, but put up for adoption at age two, and adopted by Martin and Mary Gavin at age seven.

Darryl F. Zanuck was continually at Andrew Marton's shoulder when he was directing the American sequences.

The two German Messerschmitt 109 fighters attacking the beach were actually four-seat Messerschmitt 108 liaison planes. In real life, Priller and Wodarcyk flew Focke Wulf 190s. Both survived.

Some critics felt having every part played by a star reduced the film's emotional impact.

The 'Crickets' demonstrated by John Wayne in the film and those used during the actual invasion. Where made by J Hudson & Co, a whistle manufacturer of Birmingham, England. The Company are still in existence, famous for their "The ACME" whistles, they still produce an exact replica of the crickets using the original tooling.

Fox executives were nervous when Darryl F. Zanuck decided to film this in black and white. When he was asked how audiences would distinguish it from newsreel footage, Zanuck replied, "Don't worry, I'll put a star in every shot!".

Although the screenplay is credited to Cornelius Ryan, many other writers worked on the film.

After Zwischen Himmel und Hölle (1956), this was the second film dramatization of the Normandy landings in which D-Day veteran Richard Todd (Major John Howard) appeared.

Pundits nicknamed the film "Z-Day".

The highest-grossing black-and-white film until Schindlers Liste (1993).

The film had its Royal Charity premiere on Thursday October 11, 1962 at the Leicester Square Theatre, London, in presence of Princess Margaret for the aid of the Army Benevolent Fund.

Features six Academy Award winners Red Buttons, Sean Connery, Henry Fonda, Edmond O'Brien, Rod Steiger and John Wayne, and 11 other Academy Award nominees Eddie Albert, Richard Burton, Leo Genn, Alexander Knox, Sal Mineo, Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan, George Segal, Richard Todd, Stuart Whitman and Frank Finlay in the acting categories.

In the film, three Free French Special Air Service paratroopers jump into France before British and American airborne landings. This is accurate. Thirty-six Free French SAS (4 sticks) jumped into Brittany (Plumelec and Duault) on June 5th at 23:30, (operation Dingson). The first Allied soldiers killed in action were Lieutenant Den Brotheridge of the 2nd Ox & Bucks Light Infantry as he crossed Pegasus Bridge at 00:22 on June 6th, and Corporal Emile Bouétard of the 4th Free French SAS battalion, at the same time in Plumelec, Brittany.

The casino featured in the Ouistreham sequence was in fact a hotel in the town of Port-en-Bessin a town on the Normandy coast which marked the dividing line between Gold and Omaha beaches. At the time of filming the hotel was due for demolition and was destroyed as part of the production. The site is now a car park and is marked by an information board.

In several of the beach invasion scenes troops can be seen wearing 1960's era military issued eyeglass frames (birth control glasses or BCGs) with thick plastic frames. During WW2 troops were issued wire rimmed glasses. BCGs were not issued until after the war.

John Wayne demanded that his name should appear separately on the credits.

Brigitte Bardot and Marina Vlady turned down the role of Janine Boitard.

Leslie Phillips only has one line in this movie.

This was one of several high-profile projects which John Wayne took in the wake of the extremely expensive Alamo (1960). He had used his own funds to help finance the project, and he was in desperate need of a quick payday.

Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the 400 movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.

Jack Hedley joked that the scale of this production was so large , and the resources at Darryl F. Zanuck's disposal so vast, that Zanuck was probably the third or fourth most important power in the world at that time.

The Rupert paradummies used in the film were far more elaborate and lifelike than those actually used in the decoy parachute drop (Operation Titanic), which were simply canvas or burlap sacks filled with sand. In the real operation, six Special Air Service soldiers jumped with the dummies and played recordings of loud battle noises to distract the Germans.

The United States Sixth Fleet extensively supported the filming and made available many amphibious landing ships and craft for scenes filmed in Corsica, though many of the ships were of (then) modern vintage. The Springfield and Little Rock, both World War II light cruisers (though extensively reconfigured into guided missile cruisers) were used in the shore bombardment scenes, though it was easy to tell they did not resemble their wartime configuration.

John Wayne and Henry Fonda also appeared in another star-studded epic the same year - Das war der wilde Westen (1962).

William Holden was offered the role of Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Vandervoort, but turned it down, as he was exhausted after finishing China-Story (1962), Verrat auf Befehl (1962) and Patricia und der Löwe (1962).

In the Spanish version, Fernando Rey and Jesús Puente dubbed Henry Fonda and Peter Lawford.

Average Shot Length = ~8 seconds. Median Shot Length = ~6.5 seconds

The film takes place from June 5 to June 6, 1944.

According to Ken Annakin, Darryl F. Zanuck took a dislike to Sean Connery. He said, "That Limey mumbles his lines and looks like a slob!"

Elmo Williams was credited as associate producer and coordinator of battle episodes. He later produced another historical World War II film, Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), for Darryl F. Zanuck. That film also used a docudrama style, although it was in color. It depicted the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Final film of Paul Hartmann.

Both Wolfgang Preiss (Major General Max Pemsel) and Bernhard Wicki, the director of the German episodes, played Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg in West German films about the failed July 20, 1944 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler which were released in 1955 - Preiss in Der 20. Juli (1955) and Wicki in Es geschah am 20. Juli (1955).

Film debut of Siân Phillips.

Robert E. Evans turned down a role as one of the American soldiers.

Russell Waters is credited by various sources as being in the film, but he is nowhere to be seen.

The most important construction job for the picture was done at the little fishing village of Port-en-Bessin where General Zanuck filmed the French attack against the fortified Casino that once stood at Ouistreham. The three-story building was reconstructed in detail for this great battle scene in the film, much of it photographed from helicopters.

Different types of guns and thousands of rounds of blank ammunition were hand-manufactured for the making of the film.

Countless U.S. Ranger dummies were built by the props crew for the cliff and beach action sequences. Some wired by the Sp/Fx guys with explosive charges.

Sam Gordon was responsible for the 'Rupert' doll, designed by Charles-Henri Assola. But Rupert was only one of thousands of props that prop-master Sam Gordon had to either create or find for 'The Longest Day'.

When Eisenhower and his staff deliberate on whether or not to proceed due to the weather, a ticking stop watch can be heard starting up as soon as Group Captain Stagg finishes his presentation on the weather. The sound does not change in intensity as it cuts between characters and conveys the urgency of the scene since they have 30 minutes to make a decision.

This is perhaps one of the most ambitious, epic WW2 films to have been made; certainly it is the last of the classic B&W films made about the subject. Featuring an all-star cast (John Wayne, Richard Burton, Kurt Jurgens... even a cameo by Sean Connery!), it comprehensively details the build-up and execution of the Normandy landings in 1944, taking care to show how the event was perceived by Allied and Axis soldiers and commanders, as well as the Free French resistance. This is a film that takes great care in documenting the events of the day, without lapsing into sickly sentimentalism or getting distracted with fictional characters' personal lives (a failing of many WW2 movies since about 1970), or over-emphasising any one nation's importance in the operation (although, admittedly, Canadians may feel a little short-changed).

Classic moments abound, notably the landing at St.Mere-Eglise and the soldier who gets caught in the church steeple, the frustrations of the front-line German commanders and fighters, and the numerous cameos for film nerds to keep track of.

If you want a wartime romance, or an appearance by Matt Damon or Ben Affleck, or long, loving shots of the Stars & Stripes in slo-mo, or a gritty blood'n'guts fest, you'll be disappointed. This film has broader concerns, and was made with much more thoroughness. There is no agenda at work here, pro-war or anti-. It is solely concerned with documenting Operation "Overlord" for the film-going public, and succeeds brilliantly; a shame then, that it has not made the top 50 war films list.

A must-see for any fan of war films.
This an important, interesting movie depicting the Overlord operation with monumental logistics and means of effecting the Normandy landing, the most difficult campaign of war. The picture brings to life the famous images of WWII and splendidly the most sensational military operation of the history in an Allied hard-fought effort. The film develops the previous days to the D-Day invasion ,such as the landings and the advance over France. The film is magnificently produced with big budget by the great 20th century Fox producer Darryl F Zanuck. Evocative cinematography by Jean Bourgoun and catching song by Paul Anka with musical score by Maurice Jarre. Excellent casting by plethora stars. Special mention to John Wayne as Lt. Colonel Benjamin Vandervoort , he's top-notch as tough,valiant officer in this believable war film and terrific acting by Richard Todd as Major commanding Us paratroopers dropped to protect the flanks of the invasion and taking strategic bridge. Furthermore known Generals and officers played by prestigious players, as Germans: General Gunther(Curt Jurgens),Field Marshal Erwin Rommel(Hinz), Field Marshal Von Rundstedt(Paul Hartmann), and Allied : Brig. General Theodore Roosevelt Jr(Henry Fonda),Brig. General Norman Cota(Robert Mitchum), General Haines(Mel Ferrer), Brig. General James Gavin(Robert Ryan), General Raymond Barton(Edmond O'Brien), Lt General OMar N Bradley(Stuart), General Bernard L Montgomery(T. Reid) and General Dwight D Eisenhower played by Henry Grace. Grace was a famed set designer , while he worked extensively for many films ,his only appearance was an uncredited performance as Eisenhower ; despite not being an actor , he was cast for his uncanny resemblance to the General. This famous event from how was orchestrated the dangerous,risky landings maneuvers is professionally directed by trio of directors, Ken Annakin, Bernhard Wicki and Andrew Marton.

Adding more details along with the well developed on the movie, the events were happened of the following manner : Shortly after midnight on June 6, about 23.500 US and British paratroopers landed along the edges of the landing beaches. Their mission was to seize vital bridges and communications centers. They also had to hold off any Germans counterattacks until they were relieved by the amphibious forces. The Airbone landings were largely successful. Some US troops missed their target and end up scattered over the countryside. The main amphibious landings took place after an artillery bombardment from some 200 Allied warships at German positions also came under attack from Allied medium and heavy bombers. They were part of the 11,500 aircraft committed to D-Day. They bombed the Germans on and behind the five landing beaches. US troops landed on Utah beach. Strong currents and inaccurate navigation meant that they were a little away from their precise target. They landed about 1 mile(1,6 km) south. The beach there was relatively undefended. The troops soon knocked out the only concrete gun position guarding the beach.Demolitions teams cleared paths through the obstacles the beach and the first tanks crossed the Atlantic Wall. They fanned out into the countryside to link up with the paratroopers. By nightfall of D-Day some 23,000 men and 1,700 vehicles had gone ashore. The beach had been highly congested for much of the day. Utah was a triumph ,however Omaha beach was nearly a disaster, the fight was the most difficult. The Us troops were unable to get off the beach to make room for later waves of invaders. There were better defenses there than on the other beaches, and the German defenders were positioned on high ground, from where they could pour fire down on the attackers.The allies also made mistakes. The naval bombardment ended too soon, and the bombers missed their targets and launched landing crafts and amphibious tanks too far out from the beach, may were sunk. When the first assault wave landed ,it faced a bar-rage of fire , some men were thinking of evacuation. However small groups began to make it off the beach to the high ground beyond. By dusk, some men were ashore, most were still crowed on the beach. The high ground beyond was only thinly held by exhausted survivors waves. Some 2300 US troops had been killed in the landings. The operation had come close to disaster. The three Anglo-Canadian beaches-Gold, Sword and Juno stretched fore some 25 miles. They were wide and open and ideal for amphibious landings. The British on Gold and Sword quickly crashed though the Atlantic wall. Their success was due partly to a range of specially developed armored vehicles known as Funnies. The Canadians at Juno had a tougher time. They faced rough seas and alert defenders .By late morning ,they were also pushing inland. Despite the horror of beaches , overall Allied losses were far lower than expected. Some 6000 US personnel were killed, wounded, or missing, along with 4300 British and Canadian troops. German losses totaled between 4000 and 8000. By the day's end ,some 128000 Allied soldiers were ashore and many more were on their way.
'The Longest Day' is June 6, 1944, the day the Allied assault on Hitler's Fortress Europe... And when it came everything went much according to plan... But fighting through the tough country of Normandy took much longer than had been expected...

Dwight D. Eisenhower, the four-star Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces, made up the force of some two million men massed in England for the strike at Europe...

Combined American, British, Irish and Canadian forces assault the beaches of Normandy in an effort to gain a foothold on the continent... From the viewpoint of the Americans and Germans involved, the story unfolds through numerous episodes highlighting the 'Longest Day.' We see the commands posts occupied by the Germans; Caen, the starting point; the French underground network; Omaha Beach; Utah Beach; Ste-Mère-Église; as well as sites and camps in England...

The film is a clear examination of D-Day looked at from almost every viewpoint, particularly from that of the Germans who are overwhelmed by the forces brought against them... It is in fact Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (profiled against the French beach thoroughly planted with mined obstacles) who looks out to where the invasion fleet will appear later-or sooner, and gives the film its title: "The first 24 hours of the invasion will be decisive... For the Allies as well as the Germans, it will be the longest day."

In the first half, much attention is focused on the weather, as the troops... American, British, Irish, Canadian and French are poised on board their boats and ships, waiting for the rain to stop... In the key scene when Gen. Eisenhower (David Grace), makes the decision to go ahead with the invasion on June 6, more than 5,000 ships moved to assigned positions... The importance of time is emphasized by increasing the ticking of a clock... On the other side of the channel, the German generals, who know the invasion is imminent, see the same nasty weather and decide to take some time off for war games...

French Resistance fighters receive their coded instructions from BBC radio and increase their sabotage activities... Much of the early going is also devoted to some of the Allies' more unorthodox ideas, the kinds of things that make more sense cinematic ally than militarily: the use of metal clickers by paratroopers for identification, and parachuting mechanical dummies loaded with firecrackers behind German lines to create confusion...

The film reaches its peak when the two sides in the battle are finally engaged...

The first assault wave hit the Normandy beaches at 6:30 A.M. on June 6... The soil of France looked sordid and uninviting... Planning has been as complete as possible, but in the vast confusion of invasion under enemy fire, so many men fell uselessly when they left their landing craft, and stepped into water... Others fell into underwater shell craters and drowned...

The Allied air bombing that was to have knocked out German beach defense guns had not been accurate, especially on Omaha Beach where the bombs had been laid down too far inland to do much good... As a result, the gunfire that met American troops there was more murderous than anything they had been prepared for..

Today it is difficult to watch the invasion scenes and not compare them to the opening of Steven Spielberg's 'Saving Private Ryan,' but that really is unfair... Zanuck manages to display the image of thousands of young soldiers who were killed fighting to liberate France...

A long aerial shot from the point of view of a German pilot Josef 'Pips' Priller (Heinz Reincke) strafing Normandy Beach reveals a shore-line of successive waves of men running for their lives trying to secure Omaha Beach... This awful waste and destruction of war: scores of trucks and boats hit by shells, or sunk by mines with their crew lost... Trucks overturned and swamped, partly sunken barges, and many jeeps half submerged...

Field Marshal Rommel set to work to do everything possible to make the beaches if not impregnable, very uninviting indeed... 'The war will be won or lost on the beaches,' he states... The German command was slow to react to the invasion... They had been misled by the weather and the Allied deception plan that Normandy was a diversion and the main landing would be at Pas-de-Calais...

Shot in CinemaScope and in black-and-white, 'The Longest Day' captures the history of the moment... The film tracks the book very closely, shifting the viewpoints from German to French to American to British throughout... In three hours Zanuck and his staff expand on the scope of one day, to tell mostly everything, with an exceptionally strong cast playing cameo roles... The cast could not be better, in spite of the brevity of their roles:

  • Bourvil is the French Mayor of Colleville who welcomes the British soldiers with a bottle of champagne...

  • Irina Demick is Janine Boitard, the sexy good-looking Resistance member...

  • Henry Fonda is Theodore Roosevelt Jr., the Brigadier General who limps ashore with the first of the assault boats landing on Utah Beach...

  • Christian Marquand is Philippe Kieffer, the French Commander in desperate situation in Ouistreham...

  • Robert Mitchum is Norman Cota, the Brigadier general who chops on his cold cigar, and walks along the beach and rallies his men... Mitchum gets some great lines and delivers them with the right amount of idealism and cynicism...

  • Richard Todd is John Howard, the major who lands by glider at Bénouville to capture the canal bridge over the Orne River...

All the characters speak in their own languages... The motion picture is Winner of two Academy Awards for Cinematography and Special Effects, Zanuck's 'The Longest Day' is one without doubt an absolutely remarkable film, one of the most impressive and most authentic documentation of war ever put on film...
Throw her heart
Throw her heart
The Longest Day is one of the greatest war films ever. Bar none. The acting, the cinematography, the storline and the acuraccy are great. if any of you fans watch AMC watch the Backstory behind this movie. It's amazing that it was even made. This is Zanuck's greatest work. The perspective from the different combatants regardless of their rank is great. Like somebody else said it did not portray the Germans as cartoonish evil doers. It gave a good honest portrayal that I wish more war movies would have. As a history buff I love to see movies from other countries soldier perspectives. This captures it better than every other war movie. The only one that comes close is Tora, Tora, Tora. There is one drawback however and that is the rangers at Pointe De Hoc. They did find the big guns but,they were further inland and later destroyed before they could be used. Zanuck used this to show the futility and waste of war. Other than that is a classic with very few flaws. The comparison between SPR and TLD are well like comparing apples and oranges. Yes, SPR has gritty realism that stuns you, but like another reviewer said, this was 1962 and the movie was about the entire scope of the battle. It was not meant to be up close and personal like SPR. Many of us appreciate movies from different perspctives. This is not a movie you should not rent. You should own it as part of your video collection. This movie may appear to be pro-war and patriotic, but Zanuck himself said he wanted to make an anti-war film. I think he did so magnificantly. He captured the essence of the book where Cornelius Ryan said he wrote about the men,not the battles. That is why Zanucks film is so successful. He captured the men and their feelings, whether they were American, British,German's or French and what they were feeling going into one WW2's most decisive battle. This is a Four Star Classic!!!!
True, the first half an hour of Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan" is truly mesmerizing but then it degenerates into a soap opera of sorts and all the angst and horror of war evaporates until the truly sentimental finale. "The Longest Day" doesn't depend on special effects but on the minute by minute horror of its moment. It's also, if I'm permitted to say it, a lot of fun to watch. Strangely enough the all star cast is not distracting at all. It was much more in "Saving Private Ryan" with a cast of up and comings headed by Tom Hanks himself. In "The Longest Day" there are real moments, film, cinematic moments that are intimately connected with the profoundest sense of drama: The clicking of the rifle. Richard Burton, Richard Beymer and the boots of the dead German. Red Buttons hanging from the Cathedral. Paul Anka, Fabian, Robert Wagner, the landing in Normandy. This film remains one of the best, from every angle, films of its kind.
Invariably compared with "Saving Private Ryan" (SPR), this scores over the more modern work because of the focus on all the major sides of the action (British, American, French and German).

All languages are used (with subtitles as appropriate - eg the Germans speak in German, etc).

While true that the battle scenes are not gory as SPR's, and that the sounds of battle are muted during the dialog (unlike SPR's), it should be borne in mind that in '62, the audience rating of the time *was* a General Release ("G" in the US, "A" in the UK (I'm guessing for the UK, but it is now PG)) - which more detail would not have allowed.

I think part of the purpose of this film is to allow *everyone* to see what happened 18 years before!
I am hcv men
I am hcv men
Simply put if things had gone differently on June 6, 1944 we would be living in a very different and very much uglier world than we have now. The Longest Day is Darryl F. Zanuck's tribute to all who were involved in Allied invasion at Normandy.

Even viewing it now as opposed to the theaters back then back then I am staggered at Zanuck's incredible eye and grasp for the detail of the Normandy invasion. He did the smart thing and not only bought Cornelius Ryan's standard account of D-Day, but got Ryan to write a very coherent screenplay. Even one who has absolutely no grasp of military history will be able to follow exactly what was going on.

Several of the people who are portrayed in the film also served as technical advisers of it. When you Peter Lawford as Lord Lovat or Robert Ryan as General James Gavin and many others these people aided in recreating the project.

Zanuck may have had the largest movie set in history to work with, at least up to that time. You are seeing the film photographed in the places it actually happened. The beaches, the towns of St. Mere Eglise and Ouisterham, even the embarkation areas in the UK. I doubt you could do The Longest Day today because of the changes in all these places now. Lots of cooperation from the British and French governments was necessary.

You also couldn't do it because the budget would be the size of the U.S. national debt today. This was the last days of the all powerful studio system and even with a lot of the stars free-lancing at that point, Darryl F. Zanuck was still a most powerful man in Hollywood with a lot of favors owed. One example was Richard Burton who was shooting Cleopatra at the time The Longest Day was also shooting. For his two brief, but memorable scenes as an RAF pilot, they shot around him on Cleopatra also a 20th Century Fox production while he filmed his part for Zanuck.

Even the Germans came in for a portrait of them as human beings. Curt Jurgens as General Blumentritt, who was also a technical adviser, put it philosophically best about how after he can't convince Chief of Staff Alfred Jodl to wake up Hitler to move the Panzer Divisions, breaks open a bottle of cognac and decides to drink it before the Allies arrive.

I have several favorites in The Longest Day. Richard Todd who actually was at D-Day and was a decorated hero himself, plays commando leader, Major John Howard who is asked to paratroop into France and capture and hold a key bridge intact. Todd is channeling his own as well as Howard's war experience into the film and gives a performance of unusual depth.

Norman Rossington and a pre-James Bond Sean Connery who was just making his debut as Bond in Dr. No, give some good comic relief as a cockney and Irish soldier landing on Sword Beach. So does Kenneth More as a British beachmaster with his bulldog Winston.

The French are well represented by Arletty, Bourvil, Christian Marquand and by Irina Demich. Being that three of these play civilian roles they get the only two women's parts of any substance in The Longest Day. I do like the scene where some Germans checking Irina out in a low cut dress, fail to properly search her. Irina also demonstrates how much the women were equal partners in the Resistance. Marquand as a captain of a Free French company is involved in a particularly bloody battle for a coastal town.

Of course the American cinema is well represented. Charlton Heston was to originally play the part that John Wayne does, but he couldn't get free of some commitments of his own and when Wayne became available, Zanuck grabbed him. Heston was later quoted as saying Wayne did a better job than he would have in any event. Wayne's best scene was when he saw some American bodies dangling from roofs in St. Mere Eglise. As I've said many times, John Wayne had one of the best faces for movie closeups ever. One look at the horror expressed in his face tells you all you need to know.

Henry Fonda plays General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. who would within a month after the invasion die on Normandy Beach. Had he lived, Roosevelt might have picked up the pieces of a stalled political career. But that was not to be the case. Roosevelt was found dead of a heart attack in his tent after the invasion when the Allies were trying to break out of the beach.

The heaviest casualties on D-Day were on Omaha Beach where Robert Mitchum plays General Norman Cota a division commander. Mitchum is involved at the climax of the film where American GIS after being hung up for hours, break through and insure the invasion's success.

The Longest Day is not only great drama and a great war film, but it is as accurate a film as you will ever get depicting the Normandy invasion, good history as well.
I'm old enough to have seen this epic when it was first released and, even as a nine year old, I was impressed. It was the great Daryl Zanuck's last hurrah and a fitting one (not his last film - just his last worthwhile film).

This is a great film. It's not perfect but its faults are few and minor. For me the most glaring fault is the amateurish delivery by the actor (a near ringer) portraying Ike. Also, the very beautiful actress portraying the French resistance fighter is wearing a very 1960s hairdo (a common problem with Hollywood films).

I see this film every memorial day. It helps me to remember my father, a Navy gunner's mate in the Pacific theater and my maternal grandfather, an island-hopping Sgt. in the Marine Corps. Personally, as a veteran, I find this movie as realistic as I think it was possible to be in 1961.

Is it the best American war film? No. I would place it in the top 10 alongside the following:

1. All Quiet On the Western Front (1930) 2. Platoon (1986) 3. Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) 4. In Which We Serve (British - 1943) 5. Patton (1970) 6. They Were Expendable (1945) 7. Twelve O'Clock High (1949) 8. Paths of Glory (1957) 9. Grand Illusion (1940?) 10.The Longest Day (1962)
This was an another one of these all-star casts that you don't see in more modern times, in which about everyone who was actor made an appearance....or it just seems that way. For those unfamiliar with this film, take a look back on the main page here and check out the famous names in this movie. Click the "more" under the cast overview and you'll see all the names. It's unbelievable. Some of them, to be fair, had very short roles in here, such as Henry Fonda, Rod Steiger and Roddy McDowell, but this is a real "Who's Who" of the acting profession in 1962. There are also a lot of German actors in here speaking German (with subtitles provided), perhaps numbering even more than the English-speaking stars. That's because the famous day of June 6, 1944, is seen from both sides of the conflict.

At three hours, it gives you plenty of D-Day World War II action. Almost two-thirds of the movie involves action from that famous invasion. In some spots, it just gets to be too much. Frankly, the whole film is too much and almost bogs down in too many areas....and it shouldn't, but it is a very technical film. And, for a film 45 years old, the action is pretty realistic. I thought the best shots were the overheads during one particular scenes when the Alies were going through a town.

I am anything but a WWII expert so how much detail of the infamous 'D-Day" here is correct, Since they went into such detail, I'll assume they were fairly accurate. I can't say but this movie educated me on the size of the task. I had no idea "D-Day" was this huge in scope: three million men and 5,000 ships??!!! Amazing.
**Possible spoilers ahead, though we all know how the story eventually ends (having read the book)…WWII, that is.**

Those who dismiss this film in the wake of "Saving Private Ryan" are missing the point. Yes, "Ryan" was a powerful piece of film- making, but "The Longest Day" has a far more epic scope and concerns itself with providing a more complete picture by telling the stories surrounding D-Day from the perspective of British and American troops, French troops, German troops, and French resistance fighters and civilians. Continual involvement of the higher command officers, particularly among the Germans, helps give the viewer a sense of the 'big picture' that was probably unknown to most on the ground involved in fighting.

This blending of the strategic picture and vignettes from individual soldiers -- many of them underscoring alternately the horror, the futility, and the absurdness of war -- was a prominent feature of Cornelius Ryan's book upon which his screenplay is based. The same is true of the 1977 classic, "A Bridge Too Far." And, yes, those more quirky scenes depicted in the film did apparently happen in real life, truth being far stranger than fiction could ever hope to be and war being sprinkled with absurdities of all flavors.

Attesting to the veracity of this film is not only the fact that Ryan was responsible for its screenplay but that among the military advisors were a host of generals and other officers from German and Allied forces, most of them depicted in the film. And some of those depictions were spot-on, in that the actors chosen naturally looked like or made themselves look like the historical figures (for example, the fellow who played Eisenhower looked more like the Allied commander than Ike himself did!). The core story of "Private Ryan" is fiction; the totality of "The Longest Day" is fact.

Another difference between the two films is that many of the battle scenes in the 1962 movie were dominated by long-shots whereas the newer movie kept things tight and far more up close and personal. This difference reflects the difference in the films' scopes: big-picture versus small; divisional action and objectives versus platoon-based action and objectives. On the subject of long shots, some of the sweeping tracking shots (especially of the French commando raid, but also of the assault on Omaha Beach and in a few other scenes) in this film were pretty incredible.

"The Longest Day" shares another essential similarity with the later "A Bridge Too Far" in that both feature the proverbial 'all-star cast.' I'm not sure that similar assemblages of talent and 'big names' have been cast for the same project since "A Bridge Too Far." Although it can be a tad disconcerting to see a famous actor occupy a tiny chunk of screen time, apparently underutilized, the approach does get across the idea of the sum being greater than any of the parts.

As for charges that "The Longest Day" was a pro-war film…I don't know where that comes from. And that's even WITH John Wayne being among the cast! The fact is that camaraderie and certain positive aspects of human character become magnified during war just as the more negative aspects do, and elation over triumphing over adversity is not something that should surprise viewers who might wonder why some of the soldiers appear happy at times. Also, bear in mind that many of the troops were relatively inexperienced in battle and that they were embarked upon the 'greatest adventure of them all,' finally delivering the enslaved nations of Europe from the grasp of tyranny (etc, etc).

Heroism is real, too, no matter what motivates it. Moreover, the inherent waste and tragedy of war was -- despite relying less on overt gore than is now the custom -- a current that ran through the entire film, perhaps being most obvious in such scenes as those concerned with the accidental dropping of members of the 82nd Airborne Division in Sainte Mere-Eglise and the US Rangers' incredible (and ultimately pointless) scaling of the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc. I was surprised, when I saw "Private Ryan," that Steven Spielberg had included a scene that showed American soldiers killing prisoners. I'd forgotten that a similar incident was included in "The Longest Day" (the GI responsible mused about what "bitte, bitte" meant, but surely he knew what arms raised in surrender meant). It's to the film-makers' credit that the German cast are (in addition to being allowed to speak German) portrayed as real human beings, with emotions, concerns, and real problems with those who command them.

In summary, this film is far from supplanted by "Saving Private Ryan." The Spielberg film is an incredible one, and worthy of the accolades accorded it, but its existence does not relegate "The Longest Day" to the scrap heap. The two films complement one another and together provide a remarkably full picture of what happened in Normandy almost 60 years ago.
'The Longest Day' is perhaps the greatest dramatic record of one of the defining moments in world history. After the intimacy of 'Saving Private Ryan', many critics have accused it of being a 'sanitized' version of the Normandy Invasion, but it is a different kind of film, entirely! While Steven Speilberg's aim was to personalize the horror facing the first wave of troops to hit the beach, Producer Darryl F. Zanuck, a D-Day vet, himself, wanted to create a mosaic of the myriad of personalities, events, and experiences that shaped the day. It is a film that looks objectively at all the forces who fought this epic battle, wisely casting major stars of each country to portray actual and fictitious characters. This was a bold move at the time, as subtitles are used extensively, giving the film has a uniquely international flavor. This is not your usual war film with 'American actors doing funny accents'!

There are many standout performances; a few that deserve particular recognition are Richard Burton's war-weary RAF pilot, the last survivor of his original squadron; Dietmar Schönherr as one of the few remaining Luftwaffe pilots, faced with the impossible order of stopping the invasion with two airplanes; Jeffrey Hunter, a young sergeant who is 'Dear John'ed and faces the horrendous Omaha landing; a pre-James Bond Sean Connery as a cocky Irish infantryman; Red Buttons, as a paratrooper whose chute snags on a church tower, and is forced to view the carnage as Germans annihilate jumpers dropping into a French town square; and John Wayne (himself a war film icon), as Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Vandervoort, the Airborne commander, who impatiently waits for the 'Go' order, then breaks his ankle jumping into Normandy.

Filled with drama, humor, and pathos, 'The Longest Day' works on many levels, and is never dull! Over forty years after its initial release, it's semi-documentary style still seems as fresh and engrossing as ever, and works equally well viewed by itself, or paired with 'Saving Private Ryan'.

It should be an essential part of your film library!
Darryl F. Zanuck's THE LONGEST DAY is indeed long, has over 48 international stars, 3 directors, and took about 2 years to make. 1962 was the year of the epic as far as the 1960's were concerned and this exceptional film is no exception. No cost was spared. Some good war sequences mixed with stock footage of WWII effectively present a version of D-Day, June of 1944. We see it from the German perspective (in sub-titles), the American plight, and the rest of the Allied forces. One problem: If you are seeing the film for the first time AFTER watching SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, you may come out disappointed. The war scenes are well-crafted, however, the piercing reality is missing. I tried to watch it as objectively as I could, but it is hard, considering the impression Spielberg's version of D-Day left on me.

The soldiers are led by a variety of huge name actors. John Wayne is a no-holds-barred Captain who will fight, broken foot or not. Henry Fonda plays Teddy Roosevelt, Jr. looking not to be treated as the son of an ex-president. Bob Mitchum is great as a cigar-smoking officer of the U.S. raid on Omaha Beach. The only problem is authenticity. The actors look good and realisticly war-like, however, they are kept in frame to showcase their talents and they never seem to be near death. This is by no means an anti-war film like RYAN. It can be harrowing at times, but watching Richard Burton, Sean Connery, and Rod Steiger deliver cameo-like performances (meaning they know they are only on-screen for a short time) was a bit contrived and distracting.

Overall, I did like the movie. It is greatly detailed and it lets you know exactly who each actor is playing. This is pure American propaganda, but it is still exciting. Too many fearful war experiences are handled with kid gloves. The grand spectacle of the top-notch production values as well as non-stop action make the picture watchable, if only once.

RATING: 7 of 10
The previous comments about Canadian participation in the Normandy invasion were significant - insofar as there weren't very many. One of the five Normandy beaches was Canadian (Juno), but there is almost no mention of this in The Longest Day, and I'm sure that one would be hard pressed to find many Americans (and not a whole lot more Canadians) who know this. Unfortunately, it is movies such as this and other popular media that shape the historic knowledge of people on both sides of the border. In the near absence of Canadian content, I find it ironic that a young Canadian (Paul Anka) not only played a part in the movie as an American soldier, but also wrote the theme music. I find it also ironic that the legendary rifle used by US soldiers during WW2 and shown in this movie was designed by a Canadian as well (Garand is a French Canadian name). The cruelest irony, of course, is the fact that thousands of Canadian soldiers were maimed or lost there lives on 6 June 1944 and the days thereafter, with virtually no acknowledgement in this movie. I have always enjoyed watching this movie, but it is unfortunate that I must use my imagination to see in it the heroic and selfless wartime effort of my father's generation, in similar fashion to viewers in the US and UK.
The Longest Day (1962) - CO-Directors: Ken Annakin & Andrew Morton Everyone knows this was producer Darryl F. Zanuck's baby and it earns its place in cinema history as one of those epic style movies that treats its subject matter with the most serious of attitudes. Obviously a war is no laughing matter but, for better or worse, movies tend to simplify logistics while highlighting emotional chords, such as bravery and homemade apple pie. Zanuck, however, wanted the audience to understand the scope and grandeur of an enterprise like D-Day.

Utilizing a cast of thousands, half of which seemed to be cameo appearances by major stars of the day, Zanuck presents on wide screen all the action and turmoil that surrounded this turning point of WW II. The ever-fighting Republican John Wayne is there, along with Democrat Henry Fonda, tough guy Bob Mitchum, brooding Richard Burton, sexy Sean Connery and pit bullish Rod Steiger. Still for my money, one of the best landing on the beach scenes ever filmed. Sorry Mr.Spielberg. (B&W)
Despite being a classic war movie THE LONGEST DAY is very flawed as a production . Did someone say there's just too many stars in this movie ? If so I agree . Look at the way they're introduced , Mister big name movie star has back to camera , he turns round and wow we're looking at a big name movie star . All this is somewhat distracting .

It should also be pointed out that many of the cast are let down by Corneilus Ryan's script . Ryan wrote the definitive account of the last year of the war via his trilogy THE LONGEST DAY , A BRIDGE TOO FAR and THE LAST BATTLE , he was a truly great historian but it's obvious he couldn't master the technicalities of screen writing , his characters are more like caricatures with the Americans all being butch and macho while the Europeans are somewhat eccentric save for a few Englishmen who have stiff upper lips . Like HG Wells with THINGS TO COME Ryan writes dialogue that sounds suspiciously like thought processes , an example being where the rangers fight their way into a bunker only to find it's a decoy and someone says " You mean we came all the way up here for nothing ? " . You can almost imagine the passage in the book saying " it was obvious to the men who had survived the battle , so obvious that no one dare say it but they'd fought their way to the bunker for nothing "

Despite that I will congratulate Ryan and everyone else involved in the production for pointing out that the 6th of June was a multi national effort to free Western Europe from the Nazi jackboot , Brits , Yanks and the Free French are represented ( Not sure about the Canadians but ? ) unlike the rather overrated SAVING PRIVATE RYAN that seems to indicate that D Day was an American solo effort THE LONGEST DAY is far more accurate and subjective as to what happened on the day . The script also has the temerity to suggest that the allies didn't win the battle but the Nazis lost due to the military incompetence of Hitler . It should be remembered that despite the overwhelming fire power of the allies they could have easily have been massacred on the beaches and that the Normandy landings was probably the most complicated military endeavor in all of military history

A word of warning - If you ever watch this movie only see the widescreen version because the technical aspects are awesome . The outstanding scene is where a few Americans sit on a bunk playing cards and one of them stands up pleading " Hey guys , anyone got five bucks , ten bucks , anyone got twenty bucks " . At this point the camera quickly pans out and the sound crashes in making the audience realize that the scene is set in a billets with hundreds of soldiers . Needless to say this scene is totally ruined when it's watched on a scanned copy

THE LONGEST DAY is a flawed film but a great tribute to the men who fought in that campaign . As the veterans who fought there gather tomorrow for the 60th anniversary along with politicians who didn't have the guts to join the military but are very happy to use it for political gain I'd just like to say a big thank you to all the men who fought there . Thank you to one and all . If it weren't for you I wouldn't be here now
Quite simply the best film ever attempted on this subject. The events leading up to the D Day invasion in France are meticiously viewed from the French, British, German and American sides. The dialogue is spoken in the national languages of the countries taking part in the invasion and this aspect alone elevates it high above most other films. The superb black and white photography adds yet another layer or realism . Cast features many international stars, but never stoops to a "spot the stars" formula like too many of these films tend to do.Clichés are avoided and the people portrayed are realistically drawn. Even the Germans are presented as actual military leaders and not the stereotypical Nazi villains . There are massive invasion scenes, quieter scenes at the villages before the raid, and a commando raid on a German howitzer emplacement in the basement of a casino, a scene that follows the attacking Allied group from an ariel perspective while they move through town past the docked fishing boats and destroyed buildings. The overhead shots of the beaches with hundreds of troops, tanks and landing craft gives the viewer a very accurate picture of the massive scale of the invasion, something that Spielberg just could not pull off in "Pvt Ryan".A three hour film that is up for repeat viewings. You will discover something new each time you view it. The screenplay was by the author Cornelius Ryan from his own book.No silly romantic subplots, just the facts. I remember seeing this film after it opened with my father and uncle. It was impressive then, and it holds up beautifully today. In my humble opinion, this is the best WW11 film ever made. One of the greats.
Funny duck
Funny duck
The Longest Day (1962)

This is an ambitious movie, extremely well photographed, filled with stars and secondary actors of fame and talent. And it covers roughly at 24 hour period leading up to and into the epic and dramatic June 6, 1944 invasion of German-held France known as D-Day.

On all these levels, the movie almost has to succeed. And it does. It's a popularizing account of an important event. It's history made simple, for sure, but it compresses the complexity with good intentions, and with some fair handling of both the German and non-German sides of the battles, inside and war rooms and on the beach.

The movie is filled, however, with so many characters (maybe fifty who are given enough camera time to take on some small meaning, though the poster advertises "42 International Stars") and shot in so many locations (Germany, France, London, on boats, on beaches, in villas, by the bridge, in the bunker, in the strategic commands, along the roads, flying overhead, on and on) it is truly impossible to engage in any one part of it fully. Many scenes are superb, even short ones, sometimes with great actors like Robert Ryan playing with a light on his face (in a comic scary way) and sometimes with unknowns who for a moment shine in their terror. But it's necessarily fragmented and dispersed.

There are, furthermore, attempts at humor that are a welcome break to the seriousness but are sometimes too silly and improbable to really make sense. It's like the humor that perks up little moments in a Chris Nolan Batman movie--except this is real life, this is the real D-Day and not an entertainment. You don't expect a documentary, exactly, but the levity--even if as cute as a young Sean Connery goofing on the beach as bullets fly around--is a bit off target.

The fact that this kind of movie works this well is probably amazing. It even got divided between different directors, and so the unifying qualities show a kind of logistical planning that paid off. (There are only two cinematographers and, crucially, one editor.) And of course there is history holding it together.

And this is a history that is getting lost. Fans of WWII movies (or of WWII history) will have no trouble feeling the grand, world-changing nature of D-Day. I grew up on American movies and around my parents and grandparents who had strong feelings about the war and about D-Day in particular. But young people, like the students in my classes at college, often born fifty years after the fact, have sometimes not even heard of D-Day. Many don't know a Nazi from RAF officer, even in concept. (I'm not kidding. I ask, routinely.) This is just life. Blame education if you want, but it's a natural movement forward to more recent and still living world events. We had D-Day, they have 9-11.

I watched the movie with my girlfriend who is not from the States, and who knew only the outline of the war. (Her country wasn't involved in it enough to make a dent on its own history.) And so she watched with a kind of dulled boredom. The cameos by famous people were fun for both of us, and filming was to be appreciated, but the drama I felt even with the opening credits I saw was dependent on knowing the larger scope.

And so this movie will have a shrinking audience and shrinking appreciation over time. It's a long watch--three hours--and it has a steady stream of great moments. But it's not a great movie in movie-making terms. Exciting and important and with a wikipedia page to make this all clear, but it's unlikely to fully integrate and take total form as a whole.
The Longest Day works on several levels - the most obvious being the "don't blink or you might miss several" nature of the Star-Studded cast. Much of the cast works very well (Sean Connery's little comedy double act with Norman Rossington is an unexpected highlight). Some less so, and some is just downright tokenism - Rod Steiger getting all of 43 seconds on-screen for example. But overall, it's always a watchable movie - beautifully shot.

Some previous comment have surprised me, particularly the assertion that The Longest Day is, in any way, a "pro-war" film. I'm not sure if there *is* such a thing, but if there is then The LOngest Day certainly doesn't fall into this category - the scene of bewilderment between Richard Burton and Richard Beymer at the end about the confusion and directionlessness of war is the perfect example, ending with the memorable line "I wonder who won".

I'm also surprised that a European reviewer should have accused this film, of all world war II movies, of being American propoganda. I wonder how many other WWII films include both German and (almost unqiuely) French perspectives of the war to such an extent that almost half of the dialogue in them is in a language other than English. I find the German sequences in The Longest Day to be amongst the most interesting historically and dramatically.

The film is certainly as accurate as it's possible for a fictional movie to be - the list of advisors that it had working on it should prove that - including many people who are portrayed by actors in the movie itself. These include the characters played by Peter Lawford, Richard Todd and Kenneth More, along with several of the German field officers. Little touches that seem utterly out of place (like the nuns procession through the French village bringing a temporary ceasefire) are actually historically spot-on.

The final problem for the modern reviewer, of course, is the inevitable comparison between this film and Saving Private Ryan. But, as several other contributors have noted, SPR is not only the product of a different age with a different view of these events - historical as opposed to something which happened so recently that half of the audience are likely to have lived through them. But, ultimately, something usually forgotten about Operation Overlord is that Omaha Beach was merely one battle of a very long day indeed. Americans tend to focus on it because of the death toll, but the taking of Utah, Sword and Gold were just as important to the overall outcome. The Longest Day is a film about five beaches, many battles, and many men - some, as Richard Burton says, dead, some crippled and some lost. It is an anti-war film which proves that you can be anti-war and still celebrate and acknowledge heorism. The heroism of the young American and British troops, falling face-first into the salt water of the Normandy killing grounds. The incredible bravery of the Rangers who scaled the cliffs at Pointe du Luc on and, ultimately, meaningless mission. The heroism of the two Luftwaffe pilots commanded to face the invading armies alone, and who did so (another historically accurate point).

The Longest Day is a historic film about a historical event and it should be viewed as such.

Of all war films this is perhaps one if not the best of its kind. The scale of the project, the actors, and the general depiction of the different countries and people involved make this a 'sure fire' winner. The film in comparison to say Saving Private Ryan is not a single layered narrative, unnecessarily emotional or utterly ignorant that other countries other than America actually participated, it even notes that Britain were in the war before America!!!! Perhaps this film does not have the special effects that Private Ryan does have (to its credit)but this aside it certainly makes up for it in every other area. The sheer fact that this was the most expensive black and white movie until Schindler's list is testament to that. The advisers on this film were actually there and helped draw the plans themselves, yes it is a drama, but when considering history please don't disregard fact for the want of a better plot (Spielberg) If you like war movies then this is the king of the genre, if you have never seen a war movies or dislike them, this may just about change your mind. All I will say is that "this is Rupert, and he is a diversion". God Save the King etc. Knocking on the door of 10 out of 10.
In 1962, almost post studio system 20th Century Fox was in trouble. Almost broke because of the cost of making then in-progress Cleopatra, they were in a similar fix with filming "The Longest Day". They had been churning out a series of small films with small stars that were losers at the box office. Turn on Fox Movie Channel Retro if you want an object lesson in their sorry output during the late 50s/early 60s. Enter stage left Darryl F. Zanuck, former head of Fox studio, who had left the states in 1956 to make a series of loser films in Europe with his girlfriends who were loser actresses. He argued how he could rescue The Longest Day to the board of directors, and the job became his.

The result is a great film in the tradition of old Hollywood - Zanuck's kind of Hollywood - that entertains on a grand scale, telling the story of the Allied invasion of France with a star studded cast. The big stars of the day were all there, with special billing for John Wayne. The cast includes Eddie Albert, Robert Mitchum, Henry Fonda, Sean Connery, Red Buttons, Steve Forrest and Leo Genn. Unbelievably Sal Mineo and Roddy McDowell get into the act too. And there are many others.

There are many stories being told in many places from the viewpoints of the Allied soldiers, the Germans, and the French resistance prior to the actual invasion. We don't get to follow the stories of all of these people to the end, but each story gives us a slice of life and produces a great and compelling story of the overall invasion. You don't know who is going to get cut down suddenly, who is going to make it, and who is just going to be the victim of just plain bad luck. It is all part of the horror of war. Highly recommended. It is a long film, but it is also an engrossing one.
One of the best films of 1962 and one of the best war films ever, The Longest Day features outstanding cinematography, special effects and art work. You really felt that you were present in the time leading up to June 6, 1944, when Allied forces made the incredible landing on the beaches of Normandy.

Like me, I am sure many people reading this had family members that were involved (me - a Candian brother-in-law) in this massive undertaking. To see the story from the standpoint of the men involved was a tremendous experience.

Yes, I've seen Saving Private Ryan, and the incredible carnage in the first 20 minutes, but I was just as moved by the same footage in this film without the blood. You felt the frustration of the men and the determination to succeed. Their pent-up emotions after an interminable wait to begin were unleashed on the unprepared Germans. The jubilation of the French citizens displayed gave us a real example of a country waiting to be liberated. (Maybe Bush should watch this to see how it really is when people welcome your invasion.) Robert Mitchum led an all-star cast that must have included every major actor in Hollywood at the time. If you can't find a favorite, then you are just not looking hard enough.

A superb war film.
THE LONGEST DAY is one of the if not the greatest World War II movie epics. However, it is unfair to compare it to Steven Spielberg's SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. To do so would really be comparing apples and oranges. Spielberg's movie was meant to convey the gore and horror of war and succeeded quite admirably. In THE LONGEST DAY, which was shot in semi-documentary style, Zanuck's intent was to show the monumental effort involved, on the part of the allies, in mounting a successful cross channel invasion. In that regard this film also succeeded quite admirably. It should be regarded more as a history lesson rather than as simply dramatic entertainment. The historical value of the film far outweighs any minor dramatic licenses taken by Zanuck.
June 6th,1944. The Allied invasion of northern Europe begins along the Normandy coastline. In the early hours of the morning thousands of British and American paratroopers are dropped inland to secure strategic objectives, to be followed at dawn by the main assault force consisting of Americans (Utah and Omaha beaches), British (Gold and Sword beaches), Canadians (Juno beach) and French (attached to the British at Sword). By nightfall it is hoped that the troops will be moving off the beaches and linking up with the Airborne forces inland.

This multi-faceted account of the D-Day landings was a mammoth undertaking in its day. Adapted for the screen by Cornelius Ryan from his book of the same name, it is a very detailed look at the events of that momentous day in history. Every angle is covered, from the commanders, planners and soldiers to the French underground, civilians and the German defenders. The cast list reads like a who's who of international cinema at the time, to the point where this can detract from the drama of the events at times. Nevertheless, the sheer scale of the production is staggering in its scope, most of it filmed on the actual battle sites where possible. In terms of cost, this would surely be impossible to film these days.

There are a couple of drawbacks, however. Some of the dialogue leans toward the corny at times, especially by todays standards. Also, since the release of 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Band Of Brothers' the landings on Omaha beach and the parachute drop sequences look tame and rather antiseptic. This isn't a criticism of the production, so much as a comment on how the film is starting to show its age.

On the plus side there are some very well executed sequences. The scaling of the cliffs at Point du Hoc by the US Rangers is one, and the storming of the town of Ouistreham by French commandos is another. This is probably the most breathtaking scene in the entire film, as an airborne camera tracks the commandos through the streets and ends up circling a German machine gun nest on top of the casino building.

The film needs to be viewed in its original widescreen aspect ratio to fully appreciate its epic scale. The DVD print is a beautifully clean transfer in the original black & white. I, and I suspect many others, got quite a shock a couple of years back when I tuned in to watch it on TV, to find it has been digitally colourised. In truth this version looks quite good, but it's not available on DVD.

Despite showing its age a little, 'The Longest Day' remains one of the great World War Two films, and is still the definitive cinematic account of D-Day.
In this epic star filled masterpiece which culminates with the invasion of Normandy we get to see the preparations for and events before the D-Day not only from the Allied side but also the German.

Grandly retold historical events and impressive recreations of battle scenes make this an indispensable classic. The Longest Day won two Oscars and can show off with a variety of international stars. Sean Connery and future opponent Gert Fröbe (in Goldfinger) star in smaller roles along with everyone from Paul Anka to Richard Burton. Outstanding.
I'm 57 years old, female, and grew up in the sixties. Most of the time I can't stand watching old war movies because they're so blatantly patriotic, the actors are always making overly-dramatic speeches for the camera, and the Germans are always portrayed as monsters.

So, I was stunned to realize I had watched The Longest Day in its entirety, and thought it one of the greatest war movies ever created. I found myself absolutely mesmerized by the reality of the film, especially considering it was made almost 45 years ago. I enjoyed seeing the preparations for the invasion from so many different viewpoints, and the focus on the feelings and thought processes of the combatants, rather than the blood-and-guts of today's films.

I alternated between anger and pride throughout the movie. And unlike one viewer who commented on the scene, Richard Beymer's comment, "I wonder who won", actually brought a lump to my throat because it was such an unexpectedly subtle reminder of the sacrifices made by so many during war.

Truly one of the best movies ever made.